SINCE travel restrictions were lifted in Wales in mid-July, the tourism sector has grappled to claw back some of its lost summer trade before the onset of winter.

Among them is Road House Narrowboats in Gilwern, Abergavenny, which has enjoyed a surge in enquiries, and now has a fully-booked diary until the end of their season in October.

The business is run by husband and wife team, Nigel and Sally Curtis, who said: "We would like to thank those customers who patiently postponed their paid holidays with us until we were able to accommodate new dates.”

Road House Narrowboats is the oldest boat hire business operating on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, operating since 1894.

The 35-mile section of the canal, which includes six locks, was originally two separate canals - the Monmouthshire canal running from Newport to Pontymoile Basin, and the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal running from Pontymoile to Brecon. The two were linked at Pontymoile by 1812.

Mr Curtis said: "We believe that with other UK companies alike, hospitality and tourism in general, people that do not normally holiday in the UK are taking a 'staycation' due to the present risks of travelling abroad and the possibility of having to isolate at short notice thereafter.

“Our surveys have confirmed that people who are covid fatigued just wanted to get away once restrictions were lifted."


The canal runs for almost all its route within the Brecon Beacons National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty covering more than 500 square miles.

Along the route is a four arch masonry aqueduct over the Usk at Brynich, many stone bridges, a number of lift bridges, and short tunnels at Ashford and Cwmbran with flights of locks at Llangynidr and Pontnewydd.

Although Mr and Ms Curtis lost four months of trading this season they expressed relief that the remaining three-and-a-half months were fully booked, alleviating some financial concerns ahead of winter.

Ms Curtis said: "Along with the bookings, we are grateful for the financial assistance received from the government.

“We are also delighted that our furloughed staff have returned to our employment and are confident in the stringent covid cleaning procedures we have implemented.”

All of the canal route within the jurisdiction of the City of Newport was designated as a Conservation Area on January 21, 1998. 21 of the structures of the canal now have Grade II listed building status.

Mr Curtis added: "Providing there are no further national restrictions, we think that 2021 may well be financially viable for most UK tourism and hospitality businesses able to trade, should overseas travel be restrictive and become overpriced.”